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Lack of “Summer Melt” leads to minor overcrowding at Jones and Lovett


By Elliot Stahr     8/21/18 11:19pm

Students at Jones College and Lovett College overcrowded after fewer students than expected “melted” off from the incoming Class of 2022 over the summer. Last year, 40 students overcrowded at colleges across campus to make room for the larger-than-expected incoming class.

At the end of July, the number of students in need of housing exceeded available beds by four students, with Jones over by three students and Lovett over by only one, according to Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman.

“It was nothing compared to last year,” Gorman said. “If we would have just kept waiting we would have actually been fine, but we got to the point where we were no longer comfortable just waiting and hoping that we would.”

Residential colleges conduct room draws before the office of admission receives data on the enrolling new students, so Housing and Dining estimates how many beds need to be reserved based on target size. Occasionally, too many or too few of them are left empty.

Vice President for Enrollment Yvonne Romero da Silva said if students had “melted” off in the same numbers that they normally did in the past five years, she would have hit the target class size.

Summer Melt, according to Romero da Silva, is a phenomenon in college admissions where students who had previously committed to attending the fall semester at a university later opt out of attending due to waitlist offers, gap years or various other reasons.

The number of students who melted off this year, 25 students, was unusually low when compared to the recent five-year average of 45 students, Romero da Silva said.

“We lost significantly fewer students than we typically melt in a given year,” Romero da Silva said. “They just kept holding on.”

According to Romero da Silva, the typical target size for incoming classes is around 955 students. However, last year, the class of ‘21 enrolled about a hundred students over the typical target size with a class size of 1,048, according to Rice’s admission statistics webpage.

The target for the class of ‘22 was around 945 students to accommodate the large sophomore class. The actual size of the class of ‘22 was 962 students as of Aug. 14, according to statistics shared by the Office of Enrollment.

On July 31, students at Jones College were offered a 50 percent reduction in campus housing costs in exchange for overcrowding to create a triple in a double room or a double in a single room and freeing up rooms for new students as a result.

Jones College Coordinator Michelle Bennack said students overcrowded one room and two new students were moved to another college in order to equalize the beds needed at Jones. Students overcrowded one room at Lovett, according to Gorman.

Romero da Silva said her colleagues were satisfied with the incoming class.

“I think people are by and large really happy with this class, and at least in my circles, people aren’t necessarily talking about the freshman class as being grossly oversubscribed,” Romero da Silva said. “Everyone seemed happy with who they got. I am certainly proud of this incredible freshman class.”

According to Gorman, colleges froze their waitlists for on-campus housing for the summer until all new students were placed in a room, and all new students were matched with beds by Aug. 3.

“We guarantee housing for new first year students, and so we have to honor that,” Gorman said.

Romero da Silva said the strain on campus housing for students will likely be a problem for the class of ‘21 every year due to its large size. Last year, Housing and Dining offered free housing during the fall semester for those who overcrowded after not enough beds were freed up after the original offer of $2,000 off room costs.

Gorman said she doesn’t think there will be a struggle to find space for the class based on her experience observing the larger-than-expected incoming class as a magister at Will Rice College in 2011.

“Any time this has happened before, including last summer [and] 2011, we have found a way to make it work, and come move-in day, all first year students have beds,” Gorman said.

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